NY Giants roster: Can Dante Pettis make a dent in 2021?

Dante Pettis #13 of the New York Giants (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Dante Pettis #13 of the New York Giants (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

After flaming out with the 49ers, Dante Pettis has an uphill battle to make the NY Giants’ 53-man roster in 2021 but still has that potential to help.

The NY Giants probably aren’t expecting big things out of fourth-year wide receiver Dante Pettis heading into 2021.

Pettis, the San Francisco 49ers‘ second-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft out of Washington, flashed some serious promise late his rookie year but quickly became a non-favorite of Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan, leading to him being inactive during the team’s appearance in Super Bowl LIV.

In the middle of the following season, despite all kinds of injuries San Francisco suffered, Pettis was finally jettisoned and subsequently claimed off waivers by the G-Men on Nov. 4, 2020.

Dante Pettis Receiving Table
3 yr3 yrSFO2812703857615.27751.454.3%3
1 yr1 yrNYG20547619.01332.080.0%0

Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com
Generated 7/9/2021.

Pettis put up modest numbers during his two games played with New York, hauling in four passes for 76 yards and a touchdown.

But in the wake of the NY Giants adding a slew of receiving talent during the offseason, it doesn’t appear likely Pettis will have a shot at cracking the regular-season 53-man roster, right?

Dante Pettis faces uphill fight to make NY Giants roster in 2021

It would be one thing if Big Blue elected not to add some additional pass-catchers in 2021. Yet precisely the opposite happened.

The two big acquisitions, of course, were wide receivers Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney — the former arguably being one of the top-10 receivers in the league with the latter being a promising rookie out of Florida.

Related Story: Breaking down expectations for Kenny Golladay

Golladay, Toney, Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard are essentially locks to make the regular-season cut, leaving Pettis and a number of other depth pass-catchers to fight for one of perhaps two remaining positions on New York’s depth chart for Week 1.

Pettis will look to compete against other receivers like  John Ross, C.J. Board and Austin Mack during camp. And while Pettis could potentially have an advantage over one or two of those players, even that might not be enough to ensure he’s on the roster by the time the regular season starts.

Should NY Giants experiment with Dante Pettis as a punt returner?

Safety Jabrill Peppers figures to be the NY Giants’ primary punt-return specialist heading into 2021, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

But Pettis made his mark at the collegiate level primarily as a punt returner, where he set a record for most career punt-return touchdowns in NCAA history with nine, including four his senior season back in 2017.

The 49ers never truly featured Pettis in a punt-return role. And when they did, Pettis didn’t exactly capitalize on the opportunities.

At 25 years old, though, making an impact on special teams might be the lone way in which Pettis showcases his value to the G-Men this season. It’ll be tough for him to make much of an impact on the wide receiver chart this season even if he makes the cut, so showcasing some value in the return game might be an area New York wishes to explore.

Particularly if it spares Peppers strictly for his defensive role, further guarding against injury.

Will that be enough, though?

Pettis wasn’t overly impressive during the Niners’ 2019 training camp, and he wasn’t overly productive in 2020 either, so it’s still an open-ended question whether or not the former second-round pick can make much of a difference for the NY Giants this season.

If he does, however, it’ll likely have to come on special teams.

Next. Ranking NY Giants' 5 best moves from the offseason. dark